The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that the University of Maine at Augusta has been selected to participate in the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, according to a news release from UMA.

The program provides Pell grants to students in a limited number of state and federal prisons and is expected to help improve the chances of successful and productive reentry after prison release. Only 69 colleges and universities were selected out of 200 eligible applicants.

Representatives from UMA, the Maine Department of Corrections and University College attended an inaugural convening of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program in July in Washington, D.C., to accept the award with other selected colleges and universities nationwide.

UMA has been providing post-secondary education to Maine State Prison inmates through generous private funding from the Sunshine Lady Foundation for the past 10 years, according to the release. This May, UMA graduated 17 students at the Maine State Prison.

The Second Chance Pell Pilot Project will enable UMA to build on the success of its current prison education program through continued educational offerings; in addition, UMA will expand post-secondary education opportunities to a second MDOC facility, the Maine Correctional Center in Windham in 2017.